— With dynamic playmakers Nick LaSpada and Cal Carroll behind center, Billerica and Methuen stand as the favorites in the Merrimack Valley Conference large and small, respectively.
All reports are that Billerica’s LaSpada has fully recovered from the torn ACL and MCL he suffered in a Division 1 playoff loss to Everett.
Just a sophomore last season, LaSpada won the Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year, throwing for 1,633 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushing for 1,039 yards and eight more scores.
Chelmsford, which was 6-5 last season, may be the next best contender led by running back Joe Gennaro (21 touchdowns, 1,321 yards rushing).
Paced by Eagle-Tribune All-Stars Carroll and wide receiver Raudy Minaya, Methuen seems poised to take the crown in the MVC small.
Reigning champ Dracut returns Matt Silva, (22 passing touchdowns, 14 rushing scores).
2009 record: 6-5
Offense: Spread; Defense: 4-3
Returning starters (8): Brian Miller, Sr., TE/DE, 6-4, 235; Ned Deane, Sr., TE/LB, 6-2, 205; Lyle Baker, Sr., OL/DE, 6-2, 240; Connor Clancy, Sr., C/NG, 6-0 242; Chris Newton, Sr., LB, 5-9, 205; Will Keller, Sr., LB, 6-0, 202; Kevin Sharrio, Sr., CB, 5-10, 165; Will Clark, Jr., LB, 6-0 200
Returning lettermen: Matt Barnes, Sr., WR, 5-7, 145; Nathan Bonilla, Sr., OL, 6-2, 236; Ben Cook, Sr., CB, 5-10, 172; Cody Cunningham, Sr., OL, 6-4, 292; Tom Dempsey, Sr., QB, 6-2, 181; Ian Doherty, Sr., CB, 6-0, 156; Pat Farnham, Sr., S, 5-7, 145; Alex Ferreira, Sr., OL, 6-2, 268; Mark Fitzgerald, Sr., RB, 6-0, 165; Michael Galietti, Sr., RB, 5-10, 167; Michael McGovern, Sr., WR/DB, 6-0, 154; Ben McQuaide, Sr., WR/CB, 6-2, 179; John Prawdzik, Sr., WR/S, 6-0, 168; Connor Sullivan, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 239; Greg Brown, Jr., DL, 6-1, 220; Gregory Calabro, Jr., S, 6-0, 158; Thomas Cooper, Jr., WR, 6-0, 149; Matt Crush, Jr., OL/DE, 6-2, 231; Jason Dong, Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 205; Connor Fortune, Jr., WR/DB, 5-11, 186; Jeffrey Hanson, Jr., WR/LB, 6-2, 192; James Kelly, Jr., OL, 5-11, 224; Alex Lahood, Jr., OL, 6-1, 222; Tim Leeman, Jr., OL, 6-2, 243; Nick Marcotte, Jr., OL, 6-0, 196; Brad Miller, Jr., RB/LB, 5-10, 205; Brendan Paquette, Jr., QB/LB, 6-1, 165; Derek Peterson Jr., TE, 6-1, 196; Giovanni Rosano, Jr., LB, 6-0, 173; Jake Sacco, Jr., RB, 6-1, 174; Abel Tavarez, Jr., RB, 5-10, 162; Jimmy Walsh, Jr., QB, 6-0, 167; Jake Watson, Jr., OL, 6-1, 258
Promising newcomers: Connor Fitzgerald, Sr., DB, 6-3, 191; Andrew Coke, Jr., QB/RB/LB, 6-0, 198; Tim Oteri, Jr., WR, 6-4, 186; Fred Scribner, Jr., RB/DB, 5-11, 160; Taber Tyrrell, Jr., DB, 5-10, 156; Nathaniel Altman, Soph., OL/DL, 6-1, 223; Andreas Christopulos, Soph., C, 6-0, 206; Joey Comeau, Soph., TE, 6-0, 189; Andrew DeLoury, Soph., DB, 6-0, 163; Cam Farnham, Soph., WR, 5-8, 147; Jake Flaherty, Soph., DB, 6-0, 174; Will Heikkinen, Soph., WR, 6-2, 181; C.J. Scarpa, Soph., QB, 5-9, 151; Chas Haseltine, Soph., TE, 6-1, 172; Kevin Yazhari, Soph., DE, 6-0, 209; Mark Zavrl, Soph., WR/LB, 6-2, 193
Returning leaders: Brian Miller 7 TDs, 35 catches, 485 yards, 6 TD catches; Michael Galietti 16 carries, 64 yards; Tom Dempsey 1-for-3 passing, 0 yards
Captains: Brian Miller, Connor Clancy, Ned Deane, Lyle Baker
Returning honorees: Connor Clancy and Brian Miller, All-MVC Large
Assistants: Shawn Theriault, defensive coordinator; John Rex, defensive backs; Tim Briggs, defensive line/special teams; Joe Iarrobino, linebackers; Ryan Bird, offensive line; Mike Sarnes, backs; Wayne Puglisi, freshmen; Ben Gibson, freshmen
Odds and ends: Top linebacker Ned Deane is returning from a knee injury that held him out of the final five games of last season. ... Andrew Coke transferred to Andover after starting at running back for Brooks last season. He rushed for 346 yards on 66 carries in 2009, including a 117-yard performance against Nobles. ... He is in a three-way battle for the quarterback position with senior Tom Dempsey, John Hennessy's backup the last two seasons, and junior Jimmy Walsh. ... BC recruit Brian Miller is ranked the No. 8 tight end nationally in the senior class. ... This is E.J. Perry's first head coaching job in football but he was Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Decade for his volleyball and basketball success at Salem. ... Perry is Andover's third coach in the last three years. Last year's interim coach John Rex is now defensive backs coach.
Coach E.J. Perry (1st year): "Brian Miller is just unbelievable. He is so talented. He'll be playing flanker (on offense) for us this season. Andy Coke is also very athletic and Connor Clancy never misses a snap at center. We return seven starters on defense and will really rely on the trio of Brian Miller, Lyle Baker and Ned Deane. The Farnham brothers add an extra element. Pat is the fastest sprinter in the state, and will help at safety and we may try him at running back. Cam is only a sophomore, but he has great hands and can catch anything."
2009 record: 8-3
Offense: Spread; Defense: 4-3
Returning starters (7): Zach Bardwell, Sr., QB/WR/DB, 6-1, 157; Jaycob Morales, Sr., TE/LB, 6-0, 180; Ryan Sullivan, Sr., WR/DB, 5-10, 150; Cam Walsh, Sr., RB/DB/K, 5-10, 175; Trae Musumarra, Sr., RB/LB, 6-0, 190; Xavier Peralta, Sr., WR/DB, 5-11, 145; Brendan Hopkinson, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 240
Returning lettermen: Sean Kennedy, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 263; Tim Bamford, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 194; Casey Liss, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 220; Nick Bordeianu, Sr., OL/DL, 6-5, 210; Nick Parent, OL/LB, Jr., 5-9, 171; Emanuel Suarez, Jr., OL/DL, 6-0, 237; Ryan Barry, Soph., OL/DL, 6-3, 237
Promising newcomers: Matt Armano, Sr., WR/DB, 5-8, 140; Matt Boes, Sr., TE/LB, 6-1, 173; Brendan Sullivan, Sr., WR/DB, 5-10, 156; Pat Murphy, Sr., WR/DB, 6-1, 178; Dan Burke, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 197; Jake Zakrewski, Sr., TE/LB, 5-8, 179; Michael Richardson, Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 247; Matt Horgan, Sr., OL/DL, 5-11, 177; Lance Hill, Sr., RB/DB, 5-7, 166; Matt Spellman, Sr., OL/DL, 5-11, 175; Matt McDermott, Jr., QB/DB, 6-0, 175; John Bilsky, Jr., WR/DB, 6-2, 175; Henry Rodriguez, Jr., WR/DB, 5-11, 175; Mike Pino, Jr., RB/LB, 5-10, 172; Devon Lattrell, Jr., RB/LB, 5-10, 156; Fortune Kalala, Jr., WR/DB, 5-10, 166; Brandon Lamphier, Jr., WR/DB, 6-0, 160; Dan Kfoury, WR/DB, 5-10, 145; Matt Kando, Jr., RB/LB, 5-7, 160; Jessie Alfonzo, Jr., OL/DL, 6-3, 210; Christian Nunez, Jr., OL/DL, 6-0, 235; Pat Hammond, Jr., OL/DL, 5-7, 176; Ben Tavitian, Soph., OL/DL, 5-11, 200; Manuel Vargas, Soph., OL/DL, 5-5, 198; David Veilleux, Soph., OL/DL, 6-2, 256; Mike Barry, Soph., WR/DB/P, 6-3, 170; Brady Abraham, Soph., QB/LB, 6-2, 200; Santino Brancato, Soph., RB/LB, 5-10, 180; Colby Dion, Soph., QB/DB, 6-0, 155
Returning leaders: Trae Musumarra 6 TDs, 69 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 76-292 rushing; Jaycob Morales 44 tackles, 3 sacks, 11-140 receiving; Zach Bardwell 31 tackles, 3 interceptions; Cam Walsh 4-4 field goals, 16-18 PATs
Captains: Cam Walsh, Trae Musumarra, Brendan Hopkinson
Returning honorees: Cam Walsh, All-MVC Large; Zach Bardwell, Trae Musumarra, Jaycob Morales, MVC All-Stars
Assistants: Mike Leal, defensive backs; Bob Jowett, offensive coordinator; Ernie DiFiore, special teams; Ned Finneran, defensive line; Scott Campbell, wide receivers; Jared Brown, sophomores; Sully Grella, freshmen, Mike Clements, freshmen; Tom Forzese, freshmen; Tom Canto, freshmen
Odds and ends: Last year's 8-3 record was a marked improvement after two straight 5-6 seasons, and the Raiders snapped a three-year losing streak on Thanksgiving. ... Devon Lattrell is the younger brother of 2009 Eagle-Tribune Defensive MVP Zack Lattrell. ... Zach Bardwell, whose strength is running, and Matt McDermott, who is more of a passer, are battling for the quarterback job. ... Longtime assistant Ernie DiFiore returns to the staff after stepping away for a year.
Coach Chuck Adamopoulos (14th year, 90-50): "We have some talent on offense. We are looking for big things out of Trae Musumarra at running back and we have a very good group of receivers between Jaycob Morales, Henry Rodriguez, Ryan Sullivan and others. Brendan Hopkinson is back on the offensive line. Zach Bardwell had a very good year at cornerback last year, and Cam Walsh is moving from safety to corner."
2009 record: 0-11
Offense: Multiple; Defense: 3-4
Returning starters (9): Malcolm Novello, Sr., RB/DB, 6-2, 170; Jeromy Waterman, Sr., WR/DB, 5-9, 155; Tyler Thuotte, Sr., OL/DT, 6-3, 285; Brett Pettis, Sr., TE/DE, 6-1, 190; Mac Milewski, Sr., TE/LB, 5-10, 200; David Herook, Sr., WR/S, 6-0, 175; Connor Tufts, Jr., QB, 5-10, 190; Will Haskell, Jr., OT/DE, 6-3, 250; Jeremy Martinez, Jr., WR/DB, 5-9, 145
Returning lettermen: Derek Gionpola, Sr., RB/S, 5-10, 170; Roberto Jimenez, Sr., WR/CB, 5-9, 155; Taylor Sullivan, Jr., 6-2, 190; Dan Burrows, Soph., OL/DL, 6-4, 265
Promising newcomers: Nick DeFusco, Jr., WR/LB, 6-2, 170; Ryan Filliger, Jr., OG/DE, 6-2, 215; Connor Schneider, Jr., OT/DT, 6-2, 220; Pat Darby, Jr., WR, 6-2, 170; Mario Evans, Jr., G/DE, 6-0, 190; Stas Firek, Jr., C/DT, 5-11, 200; Chance Brady, Soph., RB/LB, 5-9, 175
Returning leaders: Malcolm Novello 4 TDs, 96 carries, 519 yards, 7 catches, 201 yards, 2 TD catches; Connor Tufts 4 TDs, 26 of 70, 537 yards, 2 TD passes
Captains: David Herook, Brett Pettis, TBA
Returning honorees: Malcolm Novello, MVC All-Star
Assistants: Vincent Pettis, offensive coordinator; Dan Gobbi, varsity assistant; Mike Craig, varsity assistant; Andy Byron, varsity assistant; Ben Killoren, freshmen, Chris Canney, freshmen
Odds and ends: Vincent Pettis returns as an assistant. He was an assistant during Denis Cronin's tenure as head coach, and served as head coach for Sanborn during its first varsity season (2008). His son, Brett Pettis, is a captain. ... Mac Milewski scored 18 goals for the lacrosse team last season. ... Tim O'Connor, 35, who played at St. John's Prep and Wesleyan, replaced Tim Briggs, who stepped down after four years. He was defensive coordinator at Marblehead last year. Briggs is now an assistant at Andover. ... O'Connor is trying to right the ship. Last season was Haverhill's first winless campaign since going 0-9-1 in 1985. The Hillies won just once in each of the previous two seasons. The Hillies' last win was over Malden in the 2008 opener and its last MVC win was Thanksgiving 2007 over Lowell.
Coach Tim O'Connor (1st year): "We're very enthusiastic. Connor Tufts is developing very well. We are a throw-first offense, but we are not afraid to run him or Malcolm Novello, who brings speed. Brett Pettis and David Herook will both contribute at receiver. Mac Milewski is a nasty player and Roberto Jimenez should contribute at defensive back."
2009 record: 3-8
Offense: Spread; Defense: 3-5
Returning starters (8): Steve Mannion, Sr., C/MLB, 5-9, 205; Joshua Espinal, Sr., OG, 5-9, 220; D.J. Ramos, Sr., WR, 5-6, 130; Miguel Rodriguez, Sr., RB, 5-7, 165; Ony Ramos, Sr., DB, 5-7, 150; Jean Zorrilla, Sr., OLB, 5-10, 165; James Urbaez, Jr., OT, 6-0, 225; Robert Hughes, Soph., NG, 5-9, 240
Returning lettermen: Juan Rodriguez, Sr., OLB, 5-8, 175; Ricky Estivel, Sr., ILB, 5-8, 170; Derick Molina, Sr., WR, 5-10, 160; Nathan Baez, Jr., QB, 5-5, 130; Kelvin Severino, Jr., RB, 5-8, 175; Chris Pena, Soph., OLB, 5-6, 160;
Promising newcomers: Willy Fragoso, Sr., OG, 5-9, 210; Wilton Rosario, Sr., FB, 5-8, 200; Armando Valdez, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 270; Fidel Pichardo, Jr., QB, 5-10, 170; Janer Reyes, Jr., OT, 6-2, 230; Jorby Vargas, Jr., DE, 6-0, 190; Omar Garcia, Jr., DE, 6-0, 240; Mario Encarnacion, Jr., DB, 5-6, 150; Alonso Arias, Jr., 5-11, 220; Allan Zapata, Jr., C, 5-9, 180; Brian Montero-Ford, Jr., RB, 5-5, 140
Returning leaders: Miguel Rodriguez 28 carries, 175 yards, 0-for-2 passing; Steve Mannion 53 solo tackles, Robert Hughes 25 solo tackles; D.J. Ramos 5 catches 32 yards
Captains: Steve Mannion, Josh Espinal, Ony Ramos
Assistants: Kevin Fielding, offensive coordinator/linebackers; Chris Boardman, line; Dan Blouin, quarterbacks; Matt Cerullo, running backs/defensive backs; Rob Niceforo, freshmen; Mark Cerullo, freshmen
Odds and ends: Lawrence has some blazing speed with starting middle linebacker Jean Zorrilla (22.59 in the 200, 18th all-time in the area) and running back Kelvin Severino and receiver Derick Molina, who ran on the 4x200 team which placed second at New Englands last winter. ... Assistant coach Matt Cerullo is training in mixed martial arts.
Coach Mike Yameen (6th year, 12-43): "We are looking for Nathaniel Baez to do good things at quarterback. He is quick. Miguel Rodriguez looks good at running back, and we will try to spread the ball out to receivers like D.J. Ramos and Derick Molina among others. Steven Mannion is returning as our middle linebacker, and Robert Hughes was great at nose guard as a freshman last year, so our defense is very strong up the middle."
2009 record: 8-3
Offense: Spread; Defense: 4-3
Returning starters (13): Cal Carroll, Sr., QB/S, 6-0, 185; Raudy Minaya, Sr., WR, 6-2, 185; Kevin Higgins, Sr., WR., 6-2, 165; Jimmy Staples, Sr., TE, 6-0, 185; Tyler Bolduc, Sr., OT, 6-0, 190; Sean Whittaker, Sr., OG, 6-0, 250; Dan Cormier, Sr., OG, 6-4, 300; Steve DiZazzo, Sr., OT, 6-2, 245; Jason Doyle, Sr., DE, 6-1, 200; Matt Delmonte, Sr., LB, 5-10, 200; Michael Harper, Sr., MLB, 5-11, 195; Jeff McAndrew, Sr., S, 6-1, 185; Matt Whittaker, Jr., C, 6-0, 205
Returning lettermen: Steve Sychpon, Sr., WR., 5-10, 165; Phil Barrett, Sr., DL, 6-4, 200; Derek Feole, Sr., DL, 5-11, 240; Nikko Ferrara, Sr., DL, 5-11, 220; Brian Sim, Sr., LB, 5-8, 200; Jeff Sadezwicz, Sr., LB, 5-10, 185; Ryan Savastano, Jr., RB, 5-9, 170; Kyle Mansour, Jr., WR., 6-4, 180; Eric Lacroix, Jr., DB, 6-1, 165; Mike Capomaccio, Jr., WR/DB, 5-7, 165; Bobby Blanchard, Jr., S, 6-2, 185
Promising newcomers: Corey Shepherd, Jr., WR, 5-9, 165; Billy Parker, Jr., DL, 6-2, 200; Josh Baez, Jr., DB., 5-9, 165; Evan O'Leary, Jr., DB, 5-9, 165
Returning leaders: Cal Carroll 229 carries, 1,058 yards, 15 TDs; 93 of 189 passing, 1,035 yards, 11 TDs; Raudy Minaya 30 catches, 440 yards, 9 TDs; Kevin Higgins 17 catches, 207 yards; Dan Cormier 1 field goal, 23 PATs; Jason Doyle 68 tackles, 7 sacks; Jeff McAndrew 2 interceptions
Candidates: 70 (not incuding freshmen)
Captains: Sean Whittaker, Michael Harper, TBA
Returning honorees: Cal Carroll and Raudy Minaya, Eagle-Tribune All-Stars; Jeff McAndrew and Jason Doyle, All-MVC Small; Matt Delmonte, Mike Harper and Sean Whittaker, MVC All-Stars
Assistants: Tom Tone, offensive coordinator; Al Pare, offensive line; Mike Marshall, receivers; Jeff Dorandi, defensive line; Kevin Callagy, defensive backs; Tim Silva, freshmen; Dave Lacroix, freshmen
Odds and ends: New coach Al Pare was the head coach at Lowell High the last three seasons. He also coached Methuen head coach Pat Graham with the semi-pro Lowell Nor'easters in the late 1990s. ... Another new coach, Kevin Callagy, was the head coach of North Andover for three seasons (1998-2000). ... The eight wins were the most for a Methuen team since 1998 (8-3). ... Methuen is ranked ninth in the entire state by ESPN Boston.
Coach Pat Graham (4th year, 17-17): "With players like Cal Carroll and Raudy Minaya we bring back players that have an excellent track record. We also have some toughness in guys like Sean Whittaker and Dan Cormier."